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It has occurred to me that there must be thousands of TCU graduates scattered everywhere who have no appreciation, no real understanding, of what the Frogs were. To most of these individuals TCU is simply that cozy array of cream-brick buildings on a gentle hill near downtown Fort Worth where they spent a happy young adulthood going to Kappa Sig rushes and Tri Delt formals. And perhaps they giggled occasionally at an amusing little football team that has now won only nine games in the last seven years.
About seven years ago I was loitering in the same stadium where I had marveled at the deft spirals of Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien, where I had been dazzled by the scampers of men like Lindy Berry and Jim Swink, where I had actually felt sorry for the ball-carriers who were struck down by such assassins as Ki Aldrich, Derrell Palmer and Bob Lilly. Suddenly I was compelled to join in some laughter. A cluster of TCU students in the east stands had unfurled a banner, which proclaimed, WE'RE NO. 113!
The students had timed the unfurling to coincide with the 81st point scored by the University of Texas Longhorns that crisp afternoon.
Maybe it is to such witty followers of present-day TCU football that I am addressing myself. They might better appreciate their own humor if they fully understood how far the Frogs have fallen.
Contrary to what most of these followers may believe, TCU once produced national champions in authentic polls in real newspapers, conference champions regularly, bowl teams in abundance, All-Americas by the gross and even a Heisman Trophy winner. Uh-huh. Just like your normal, everyday Ohio State or Southern California.
The SWC into which I was blessedly born was organized in 1915, and for the first 25 years of its existence no football champion ever repeated, which was why sportswriters were inspired to label it a jinx-ridden, upset-prone, wild and woolly place. TCU joined the conference in 1923, and almost immediately the Frogs became a major contributor to its jinx-ridden, upset-prone reputation. On an average of every other season in their first 15 years as a member, the Frogs either defeated or tied the team that won the championship. But it didn't stop there. For close to 40 years, the Frogs repeatedly pulled off gigantic upsets, even in those seasons when they could do little else but provide an excuse for the Texas Christian University Swing Band to prance onto the field and strike up a rendition of Plenty of Money and You. But the Frogs were much more than spoilers. Upsets were just the comedy relief provided by Francis Schmidt, Dutch Meyer and Abe Martin, the three men who coached TCU through the glory years.
Those years began in 1929 when Cy Leland's breakaway running brought the Frogs their first conference title, and the glory ended with the last title in 1959 (shared with Texas and Arkansas). Over this span of 31 seasons, from '29 through '59, the Frogs were the best team in the SWC. I just happen to have proof. All TCU did was:
Win more national championships (two, '35 and '38) than anybody else in the conference.
Win more conference championships (eight) than anybody else.
Go to more bowl games (11) than anybody else in the conference.